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Freeths - Law firm

Contentious Trusts & Probate

Finding the right solution

What is involved?

With an ageing population and an increased prevalence and awareness of conditions such as dementia, disputes over trusts and estates have escalated in recent years. Add to this a desire to hand wealth down to younger generations and also a greater diversity in family structures, it is unsurprising that disputes in this area are becoming more and more common. They can affect virtually any family.

Whether you are seeking to challenge or defend the validity of a will, bring or defend a claim under the Inheritance Act, protect your interest in an estate, or have been excluded from an estate, we have the expertise to guide you through the litigation process. We can also help with lifetime claims, such as actions against trustees, disputes concerning deputyship, financial abuse, and professional negligence claims.

We focus on providing you with a clear plan from the outset, designed to support you through the distress and upset which is often a by-product of these disputes. Unlike other firms, we encourage other funding arrangements in the right circumstances, rather than just where they are necessary.

Call our Contentious Trusts & Probate team now to see how we can help you.

Why choose Freeths?

  • We encourage the use of alternative dispute resolution and can represent you at mediation
  • You can rely on our extensive experience of acting in high value and complex cases
  • We will help you through the process of funding your case – you will be given clear costs information and, in appropriate cases, we will look at alternative funding options such as a “no win no fee” arrangement, insurance, or third party funding
  • A number of our team are members of ACTAPS (Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists) and hold qualifications with the STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners)


Freeths’ Nottingham and Oxford offices are ranked in tier 1 in the field of contentious trusts and probate in the Legal 500.

Our specialist team is experienced in handling all aspects of contentious trust and probate litigation.

We can draw on support from our impressive private client, tax, agricultural and commercial teams and we often deal with farming estates, family businesses and international assets disputes.

Understanding the legalities from the outset may help to avoid disputes. Freeths offer a wide variety of information guides regarding Trusts, Probate and Estate Administration. Please get in touch using our enquiry form if you would like a copy.

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Meet the team

Contentious Trusts & Probate Lawyers

Jemima Barnes, Solicitor

Jemima Barnes

0845 077 9640

Paul Brown, Associate

Paul Brown

0186 578 1020

Sarah Foster, Managing Partner and Contentious Trusts and Probate Disputes Solicitor - Oxford

Sarah Foster

0186 578 1055

Rachel Gaffney, Director

Rachel Gaffney

0115 935 1860

Sally Goodger, Senior Associate

Sally Goodger
Senior Associate

0186 578 1061

Robert Hill
Senior Associate

0845 274 6924

Mark Keeley, Partner

Mark Keeley

0845 274 6875

Max Orbach, Solicitor

Max Orbach

Mona Schroedel, Senior Associate

Mona Schroedel
Senior Associate

0186 578 1057

Rosalyn Shephard, Associate

Rosalyn Shephard

01865 781 023

Related news

"I just wanted to thank you and your team so very much for all of your hard work and support to date. The customer service that I have received from you and your team can only be described as outstanding. You always go the extra mile and it is a real pleasure to deal with you."

"Superb skill set as required by the circumstances of the case. Providing an excellent balance between sensitivity to client’s circumstances and commercial reality required to be considered."

‘Offering a good balance of technical knowledge, approachability and a pragmatic stance’, the group demonstrates particular strength in high-value litigation, including claims under the Inheritance Act, will challenges, removal applications and Court of Protection work.

(The Legal 500, 2019)

"Thank you very much for your excellent handling of my case: No-one could have been more expedient or effective. It was my good fortune to have your exceptional services."

"Justifiably regarded as the best firm in the East Midlands", Freeths LLP "has a clear understanding of its clients’ needs and aims, and is relentlessly focused on achieving those aims. Offering a good balance of technical knowledge, approachability and a pragmatic stance"

(The Legal 500, 2019)

"I just wanted to thank you [Rachel Gaffney] and your team so very much for all of your hard work and support to date. The customer service that I have received from you and your team can only be described as outstanding. You always go the extra mile and it is a real pleasure to deal with you."

The Legal 500 quote that Freeths is "A top-flight firm with a national profile', Freeths LLP's team is 'a really good option for serious contentious litigation'."

(The Legal 500, 2019)

"I am delighted at the conclusion of this long and protracted case. I would like to express what a pleasure it has been working with you, and would like to thank you for all your hard work in this matter."

"It is a great relief to me and my family that this problem has been resolved and thank you very much for your help and support."

"Thank you for all the support you have given us in this difficult, complicated and interesting case, you have explained all the jargon in easy to understand terms with efficiency and helpfulness."

Notable Work
  • Acting for an administrator in a complex claim for an account on the footing of wilful default against former administrators. The events complained of spanned a period of over 30 years.
  • Recovering money from attorneys who have acted in breach of trust, removing attorneys/deputies who have abused their position, or challenging lifetime gifts that have been procured by undue influence.
  • Successfully defending a will challenge brought by a claimant against his defendant clients. The claim would have meant the defendants’ losing their home, but Robert successfully secured the transfer of the property over to his clients through High Court litigation.
  • Advising a beneficiary of a £1.2 million estate on the construction of the terms of a will whose entitlement is unclear from the wording of the will and representing that beneficiary in pre-action negotiations.
  • Successfully resisted a £2 million+ unusual mutual wills case, where it was alleged that because of that mutual will, our client held his late wife’s estate on trust for the claimant (a non-family member). Complex company and estate issues arose, given (i) our client’s 100% shareholding in estate companies and the claimant’s position as director in them; and (ii) the fact that our client and the claimant were joint executors of the late wife’s will. A settlement was reached prior to trial whereby a small % of the £2 million was paid, including costs.
  • Recently acted for the daughter in a disputed multi-jurisdictional estate. The deceased (born in Italy) had lived in England for over 40 years. His wife alleged that he had adopted England as his domicile of choice and made an Inheritance Act claim against his £1.5 million estate. We obtained witness evidence to show that he had not lost his domicile of origin. The claim was settled favourably at mediation.
  • Mark has represented well over 200 clients in claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 in estates, ranging from a modest value up to estates exceeding £25 million.

Client service

‘Doing the right thing’ is at the heart of Freeths. Find out more about our excellent client service and the strong set of values that guide the way we work.

Our service


Talk to us

Freeths are a leading national law firm with 13 offices across the UK. If you have a query about our services or just want to find out more, why not give us a call?

Contact: 03301 001 014

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